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Benefits of child-spacing

By Angella Wali | Oct 21st 2015 | 2 min read

NAIROBI: Why is the first-born jealous of the second-born? Why is the third-born jealous of the second-born? Why is the last-born most of the time termed as “the favourite”?

It is all about attention and the same principles apply when it comes to child nutrition and parental care. When a baby is born, it is recommended that they be exclusively breastfed for the first six months, after which other foods and fluids can be introduced.

Breastfeeding, however, needs to continue until the child is at least two-years-old.

Breast milk gives the baby infection-fighting property (antibodies), which builds and boosts the child’s immunity, thus reducing the risk of infections and malnutrition, especially since their immune system is not fully developed at that age.

It is, therefore, important to space children by at least two years to ensure a child gets proper nutrition. Once the mother becomes pregnant again before the child is two-years-old, she can no longer breastfeed this child, thus increasing his chances of getting infections, which can lead to malnutrition and ultimately result in poor child feeding practices. This leads to poor attention towards the child.

Implications on the unborn child are also serious. Once a woman is pregnant, her nutrition status is also at risk as she is the sole source of all that the foetus inside her needs to grow: nutrients, energy, immunity, blood, brain function. The mother’s reserves become drained and she needs to constantly compensate for this through eating a larger share than normal and through supplementation.

After delivery, the mother will need enough time to recover her nutrition status and immunity so as to provide the next foetus adequate nutrition for proper growth and development. This recovery period is the two years that I am referring to. Once a pregnant woman has adequate supplies, chances of having a pre-term or low-birth weight baby are significantly reduced.

Child spacing, therefore, needs to be advocated for through family planning and nutrition education if we are to combat child under-nutrition and reduce the number of pre-term and low weight births.


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